Friday, August 10, 2007

If this is the welcome, I'd hate to see a refusal

Bravo's new reality show, Welcome to the Parker is all about life at an upscale, 5 star, luxury resort in Palm Springs. After 3 episodes, I don't think I would want to stay here. For what they charge a night, I would expect flawless service. The staff at the Parker has a long way to go before they will truly be deserving of 5 stars.

From what is being aired (we all know many things can be changed in the editing room, so I take everything aired with a grain of salt), the biggest problem at the Parker appears to be Michael Twomey, the Catering Sales Manager. It looks like every event he is involved with has problems, most of which he causes. He wants to be everybody's friend, so rather than saying, "no," to a client's request, or even, "let me get back to you," he immediate says, "yes, no problem." Having planned a wedding, I know that hearing "yes" is what you want. However, Michael agrees to things and then forgets about them. Last night a guest paying $30,000 for a party asked for heat lamps. True to form, Michael promised him 17. But the afternoon of the party, he found out only a few of the heat lamps were working because no one knew to get them ready. He forgot to put in a request for them, so the grounds staff had no idea they were needed. So Michael had to scramble to rent lamps and then passed on the cost to the client. I'm sorry, but Michael dropped the ball on this and should have paid for the rentals. This was his fault. The client should not have even know about the problem. This client regularly hosts big parties at the Parker, you want to keep him happy. Clients should NEVER know of a problem and if it means it cuts into your profit a little, so be it. Michael cost this customer an additional $800 because of his own carelessness.

For an event the week before, the clients, people from Barcardi, specified they wanted certain chairs for the dinner table. Michael told them it wouldn't be a problem. When the table was set, they used folding white chairs, not the ones the clients wanted. But Michael looked around, said everything was great and moved on. It wasn't until later when the clients arrived that the error was noticed...and it had to be pointed out to him. The problem was resolved quickly, but this is a problem that should never have happened.

Michael, here is a little advice for you: When you meet with a client, TAKE NOTES. Pages and pages of notes. Then, type them up, send them to the client to make sure everything is covered, and all costs are spelled out. Have the client sign it and return it to you. Then, make yourself a check list to be sure everything that needs to happen, happens. I know you are new here, but some of this is pretty basic stuff. Also, when your boss calls you in to his office, DO NOT yell at him. Whether your boss is right or wrong, he is still your boss. There is a right way and a wrong way to challenge your boss, yelling is the wrong one.

Not to put all the blame on Michael, there are many others who have problems too. Samir, the Hotel Manager said last night that he often has to cover up for Michael and pick up his slack. While I understand the Samir's desire for things to run smoothly, if he keeps covering for Michael, Michael is not going to learn anything. When you see a problem, call him on it, don't just fix it yourself. Picking up his slack may treat the symptoms, but it does not fix the underlying problem.

Other problems on last night's episode centered about Jill Johnson, a high profile travel agent coming to stay at the Parker. As a travel agent, she has the ability to steer her clients to the Parker. She is a VIP guest and if there was one person that day at the hotel to not mess up around, it was her. But, the Parker staff once again proved itself to be bumbling and incompetent. To begin with, after checking in, the person escorting Ms. Johnson's party to their room had no idea where their room was. He took them to the wrong building. You would expect someone whose job it is to take people to their rooms, would know where every room on the property is located. Once finally in her room, Ms. Johnson had to leave to have a meeting with the hotel Sales Manager, Alysa, that she scheduled before she arrived. Unfortunately, because of the fiasco getting to her room, Ms. Johnson wasn't sure how to get back to the reception area. Once she got to the front desk and asked for Alysa, she was kept waiting for 36 minutes. I could understand if she just showed up and asked for Alysa having to wait a few minutes. However, this was a scheduled meeting.

Once Alysa arrived, she took Ms. Johnson on a tour of the property. Part of this tour involved seeing some guest rooms. Each of the first two rooms they tried to enter was in use by a guest. Now, don't you think you would check the hotel log to see what rooms were unoccupied before going on the tour and making a note of which rooms were available to be shown? I don't know, just seems like common sense to me. To apologize for the error, Alysa sent Ms. Johnson a tray of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate covered strawberries. That would so work for me! While that is very lovely, it still doesn't excuse the lack of professional Alysa showed by keeping her waiting 36 minutes and not know what rooms could be shown. We learned at the end of the episode that Alysa was fired.

Later in the day, after laying at the pool, Ms. Johnson returned to her room and found her bed sheet had a large tear in it. What kind of housekeeping staff would not notice a torn sheet when they make the bed?!?

For me, the best part of last night's show was Drag Queen Bingo. The event was a fund raiser for The Desert AIDS Project. Michael once again had some problems putting this together, but he appeared to do it without letting the clients know about the problems getting gift bags put together. Michael claims he was told about the gift bags at the last minute. OK, go to the bar and get a few bottles of champagne, get gift certificates from the spa and restaurants, get a free night stay. This was a chance for him to make future business for the hotel, but he totally dropped the ball. The nicest gift was actually from two guests at the hotel who said they thought Drag Queen Bingo would be too racy for them but they wanted to be supportive so they made up a basket of spa products. It was truly lovely. They explained that they are southern Christian girls and that their God is a God of tolerance and love for all people and they felt the same. They really tried to stress their not coming to the event had nothing to do with a prejudice against gays. Whether that is true, only they know. But they supported the event. And it looked like a great time was had by all. When you have Coco Peru and Bridgette of Madison County as your Bingo callers, you cannot go wrong.

The one constant plus at the Parker is the food. No matter what the problems with the staff, every guest they show raves about the food and the service in the restaurant. So what does all this mean? Don't book a room at the Parker, but definitely go for dinner.

Despite all these issues, I'll check it out again next week...but I won't check in!

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